I must preface this morning's Governor Rick Snyder interview on Morning Joe with a quick recap of the dysfunction that is manifesting itself in Flint, a crisis that reflects the insidious intent of Republican governments nationwide. John Nichols of The Nation explains:
Of all the destructive and anti-democratic policies of all the Republican governors elected in the 2010 wave election, none have been so destructive and so anti-democratic as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s use of the power of the state to appoint “emergency managers” who have been empowered to override the will of the voters in Michigan’s major cities.
Snyder, a crude and cynical tactician, refused to treat urban centers fairly when it came to budgeting and the distribution or state revenues. He then claimed that local elected officials were incapable of managing municipal finances and moved to appoint unelected and unaccountable managers to implement austerity policies. So determined was Snyder to trump the will of the people (and common sense) that, when Michigan voters rejected the emergency-manager policy, he continued with a modified version of his authoritarian approach.
In what's become a huge government scandal, garnering headlines across the country and around the world, Flint's drinking water became contaminated with lead after the city temporarily switched its supply source in 2014 from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to more corrosive and polluted Flint River water, treated at the Flint water treatment plant.
The switch was made as a cost-cutting move while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager. The state Department of Environmental Quality has acknowledged a mistake in failing to require the addition of needed corrosion-control chemicals to the water. That caused lead, which causes brain damage and other health problems in children, to leach into the water from pipes and fixtures.
Snyder knew what he was doing, and didn't care. That's why every single word out of his mouth on MSNBC's daily three hour 'Fox-Lite' program was disingenuous, to put it mildly. When the conversation geared towards ascertaining the blatant racial prejudice of his Emergency Management Law, he predictably covered his rear end.
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BRZEZINSKI: So governor, you're shouldering a lot of this and we've had you on the show a number of times. We think you're a really good man. (yikes!) I'm going to read to you, from "The New York Times" this morning, it's pretty searing, and I'd like to ask you to respond. If Flint were rich and mostly white, would Michigan state government have responded more quickly and aggressively to complaints about its lead polluted water? Is this a case of environmental racism?
SNYDER: Absolutely not. Flint is a place I've been devoted to helping. Look at all the work we've done in Detroit. Several cities, Detroit, Flint, Pontiac, Saginaw -- I've made a focused effort since before I started in office to say, we need to work hard to help people that have the greatest need. So we've done a lot in terms of programs there to go help the structurally employed get work, in terms of public safety, we've done a lot. Healthy Michigan was a whole Medicaid expansion. And many of those people getting the greatest benefit are people in places like Flint and such, because they deserve better medical care. So many of these things are actions we've taken. What is so frustrating and makes you so angry about this situation is, you have a hand full of quote unquote experts that were career civil service people -- that made terrible decisions, in my view. And we have to live with the consequences with that. They work for me so I accept that responsibility, and we're going to fix this problem.
Snyder's Act 436 of 2012 allowed for the takeover of cities with troubled finances, which coincidentally are also the poorest and blackest. The lead was brought to the attention of anyone and everyone the afflicted could alert. There's ample evidence that this was not a secret. Just a few weeks after the April 2014 switch away from Lake Huron water, people complained. GM refused the water in October, 2014. The 'experts' didn't drop the ball, the Republican crooks did.
BRZEZINSKI: When are the people of Flint going to have water?
SCARBOROUGH: Yes, I guess that’s the best question to finish with.
SNYDER: Yes, short term we’re making sure they have bottle water and/or filters. And we’ve made an effort with the National Guard, we’ve visited over 30,000 homes. Our estimate was 30,000 homes. We passed that last night. We’ll visit another 7,000 homes to work on the short term.
Throwing mid-level bureaucrats under the bus is not going to eradicate Snyder's culpability here. How many citizens of Flint, especially children are suffering/will suffer unimaginably caustic physical and mental health consequences from this cheap stunt? It will take years to assess all the health-care nightmares.
The most important lesson we can learn from this travesty: Republicans can't govern. They literally poison everything they put their dirty hands on. Throughout this pivotal 2016 election season, you can't mention this proven fact enough!